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Have you ever found yourself stuck in a conversation, without knowing how to make your exit?

I am currently reading Mike Bechtle’s How to Communicate with Confidence, a book that teaches us how to engage in better conversations ― not by trying to become someone else, but by building on our personality strengths (whether we are extroverted, introverted, or a mix of both). One of the chapters addresses ways to exit a conversation gracefully, and I’ll share four of these tips with you today.

1. Be honest

Do not make up false excuses to end the conversation. Instead, you can wrap up the discussion by mentioning what you enjoyed the most from your interaction. This will help you part ways on a positive note. Then, be decisive and direct in making your exit without leaving room for negotiation. And voilà!

2. Make it about you

If you have set some goals for yourself before the event, don’t be afraid to use them to justify your moving on from the conversation. For example, you may want to meet specific people to learn more about a particular program of study. However, it bears repeating that for this tip to work, you need to have genuinely set your objectives beforehand.

 3. Ask for help in achieving your goals

Let’s say you came to the event to learn more about the field of finance and its various career opportunities. You can ask the person you are talking to if they are knowledgeable on this particular topic. If they are, it will give your conversation a new direction (especially if it had become tedious). You can always excuse yourself afterwards to learn more from other attendees on this topic. If the person has no information to share with you, they might either introduce you to someone who does ―which will lead you into another conversation―, or they will say “no” and you will have a way out!

4. Help other people meet

If you recognize other people in the room, introduce them to the person you are speaking to. If you feel that they are hitting it off (and this is important!), you can then excuse yourself and move on.

These tips are helpful in all situations, from networking events, to evening gatherings and in everyday life.

The secret is to practice often. It is a well-known fact that we learn through repetition!


© 2020 Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa
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